In Remember Me there is a shining gem of a game, worn dull by an outdated world structure, cliched themes and a combat system that just falls short of brilliance. It should though be commended for its portrayal of a well-realised, non sexualised female lead. Let me first say that I enjoyed playing this game more than I have enjoyed any in a long time. For all its flaws I felt its strengths far outweighed its weaknesses. It is one of the most inviting worlds I’ve ever experienced in a game. It’s also worth saying that I’m only ever this critical of things I love, because I want them to be perfect. This annoys my friends as I appear to have more of a problem with the films, games and books we like than the ones we dislike, but it’s only because I’m interested enough to obsess over the details.
I’ll try and keep this spoiler free.
There are several problems that I have with the narrative, some missed opportunities I think would have been really great, and there are also a wealth of small gripes like poor voice acting, (though the main cast is excellent). It’s not really worth focusing on these as they’re easily ignored, but I do wish they’d made more of certain story themes - Nilin’s amnesia for example would have been a great opportunity for her to be manipulated by people claiming they were old friends.
The combat system has some fundamental flaws and later unlocks make it pointless to ever use initial combos, as you get no bonuses for finishing them. The bigger sin though is that although you can continue your combos between enemies, if the one you’re fighting dies you lose the progress. It almost feels like a bug.
I also find the inclusion of the mutant ‘Leapers’ disappointing. Must all games include a mutant or zombie of some sort? They come with Gollum-like voices and it all feels a bit silly.
My main problem with Remember Me though, is that like a lot of older games it’s a slice of a world I wish I could explore fully. You play in closed off environments, bookended by cutscenes and mission cards. You have access to abilities that are only available to you a few times throughout the game and only at certain points. It feels like a teaser for something much bigger, a vertical slice. You do not feel like a free agent.
One such example is your ability to enter someone’s memories and alter them, changing what they do in the real world. However these only happen at set points making you feel a loss of agency. It’s a shame they couldn’t have built a system where you could steal anyone’s memories, gaining you access to a variety of places around the world, some insignificant, some vital to the story. It would not have been able to be as complex as the current implementation, but I would rather have an ability that I could use at any time, anywhere, than one that I wasn’t truly free to use.
It’s these things that make it feel outdated. I want to be free to explore the world I’m in, after all, along with interactivity, exploration is one of the fundamental differences that games have from other art-forms. Gameplay too is our way of touching the worlds we play in. If we’re shown that a character has an ability we are not free to use, it only distances that character from us.
Nilin is supposed to be a Memory Hunter, someone who operates above neo-paris, a detective who steals peoples memories in order to unlock the city. It’s just a shame that we were simply told that story, rather than living it ourselves.